Aidan Walsh admitted people had plenty of reason to dismiss Cork’s chances of beating Limerick on Sunday. After losing by seven points to Tipperary the Sunday previous, the Munster champions were not fancied by many to topple the All-Ireland winners on their home patch.
As upsetting as that Tipp opening day defeat was, it didn’t dent the belief in the group, Walsh insisted.
“People were writing us off all week and it was hard to blame them. When you lose a home game as convincingly as we did last week, it didn’t bode well. The boys (management) made some big calls — myself, Rob Downey making his Championship debut, Mark Ellis didn’t play any league, they were big calls and I’m delighted.
“Rob Downey was excellent, Mark Ellis was outstanding, Deccie Dalton came on and got two points, Niall O’Leary playing (his) second Championship game.
“We’ve a 39-man panel and we’ve shown that fellas can come in. Mark Ellis wasn’t even on the panel last week and he comes in and plays like that, that just shows the character of the group.”
Walsh won’t deny there was pain among the players following that Round 1 reverse in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“Last week was very disappointing. We know that we can play better than that, but it was probably the perfect preparation for Sunday. A six-day turnaround and fellas were hurting, but they were looking forward to it, a chance to play the All-Ireland champions in their home ground, everything was going against us but we knew ourselves that if everyone worked hard and did their job, we’d be there or thereabouts. It worked out.”
Making his first Championship start for the hurlers since 2016, Walsh was glad to contribute, powering into the game in the second half as he ably assisted up the main shooters predominantly on the wings.
I know I don’t the skill of the Hoggies or the Lehanes or the Cadogans, but I know when they do get the ball they’ll do the damage.
"I’m happy enough to work hard, run as much as I can, run myself into the ground and make space for the boys, get the ball and give it to the shooters. Most teams have someone like that and I’m happy if I’m given the opportunity to do it.”
The Kanturk man knows they will have to keep up their intensity levels against Waterford if they are to back up the win over Limerick.
“We know ourselves that if we work hard and do our job, we’ll be there or thereabouts. At the end of the day, any fella can have an off-day, but nobody stops you from working hard, nobody stops you from running. You mightn’t get the first ball, you mightn’t get the second ball, but if you keep showing, keep working, the breaks will go for you.
“The first two or three balls, I missed them, but you keep plugging away and you have fellas around you encouraging each other. We’re just looking forward to training for the next few weeks and our next game is a home game, which is a great incentive as well.
“We love playing in front of our own fans, they travelled in numbers to Limerick and we’re delighted to get the win for them.”